Success Story – Smoke Free Ordinances and Community Capacity Building for Policy Change in GA
The goal of Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) was to be a voice for the diverse community in providing a healthy built environment for all to live, work, learn, and play. In 2018, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL) selected CPACS as a regional partner for the ASPIRE National Network, a part of CDC’s Networking2Save Consortium that works to serve priority special populations in cancer and tobacco control work. CPACS was selected based on its prior work and success in connecting with Asian American and Latino populations in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
Before a smoke free ordinance was put into place in Doraville, GA, there was a gap in smoke free protections for employees and also for those living in multi-unit households like apartment complexes and townhomes, where they were exposed to smoking in their properties. According to CPACS Substance Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator Camila Gomez, the main component of the ordinance was to pass something that “would protect people from smoke in their home areas because everyone has the right to breathe smoke free air where they live.” The area around Buford Highway is a multicultural corridor of Asian and Latino cultures and CPACS sought to protect the people in the area by providing the youth a voice in advocating for policy change. CPACS worked with primarily Asian American and Latino youth and community leaders to build capacity to advocate for smoke free spaces to ensure a healthier community built environment in Doraville, GA.
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL) collaborated with the Center for Pan Asian Community Services to train their staff on many of the policy and community readiness models endorsed by ASPIRE and created by APPEAL as tools for use in community capacity and coalition building. As a part of the CPACS’ goal to provide a voice for the diverse Doraville community and to create a healthy built environment for all, CPACS began work to advocate for a smoke-free Doraville, GA. This stemmed from the recent successful passage of a smoke free ordinance in neighboring Clarkston, GA. CPACS empowered youth in their organization to form and put together a youth task force to create educational presentations and awareness in the community of the need for smoke free spaces and reduction in commercial tobacco advertising that targets youth and urban minority groups. The youth task force attended multiple city council meetings and helped to identify and gather key stakeholders from leaders and champions from within community leadership, policy makers, and local and often ethnic businesses. They helped transform coalition building. Through coordinated communication, CPACS identified coalition building, smoke free policy, and youth task force creation as key pieces in their tobacco work.
Members of CPACS led by the youth task force and guidance from members of city council in Doraville collaborated on work with Smokefree Atlanta and the American Heart Association to promote their efforts. Through the youth task force process of attending city council meetings and providing educational presentations to civic leaders, CPACS was able to make connections with city council members such as Stephe Koontz (City Councilwoman Doraville, GA District 3). With Koontz’s help and support for smoke free spaces, CPACS was able to also garner strong support from the mayor of Doraville to make smoke free policies a priority.
Through advocacy and capacity building, CPACS was able to implement a comprehensive smoke free ordinance in the city of Doraville to reduce secondhand smoke in November 2020. CPACS was instrumental in getting the ordinance passed in Doraville, GA to prohibit smoking on all city owned properties and, in all city-owned structures, and bans any kind of smoking within 20-feet of the entrance to most public places and residential common areas. The ordinance went into effect late 2020 and CPACS has worked with the city of Doraville to increase education and awareness of the ordinance in 2021 to the community and to local businesses in the area.
CPACS is disseminating graphics to the community in various languages to ensure the community is aware of the passing of this policy and providing the community with support through this transition. CPACS is working with youth through its Community Action Teams program to do an ethnographic follow up study of the effects of the ordinance to inform their future culturally and linguistically tailored educational materials development for policy awareness and continued collaboration with community businesses in enforcing the ordinance.
CPACS began the implementation process by conducting a community readiness needs assessment through their community coalition: the GATE Coalition. Through the GATE coalition (GA Team Empowerment), a coalition dedicated to prevention of underage substance use that harnesses cultural and linguistic skills necessary to work with AAPI/Latino communities of metro Atlanta, CPACS was able to make connections and meet with local stakeholders. CPACS followed the triethnic model, which includes asking a set of specific questions to key stakeholders in the community. Stakeholders included those stated previously in CPACS’ coalition of parents, students, business owners, policy makers, law enforcement, and the education system. Through those key questions, CPACS kept a record of behaviors and attitudes of the community as they changed over time. APPEAL continued to support CPACS throughout the coalition building process.
CPACS convened several community listening sessions and focus groups to identify the problem and to get community members to offer their input on policy change for a healthier community. CPACS gathered community member input and worked to connect with local partners. Through CPACS’ youth task force work and collaboration with the GATE coalition, CPACS was able to identify several local stakeholders to help advance tobacco prevention laws. These key stakeholders along with various local law enforcement and high school guidance counselors joined in coalition monthly calls where they were able to provide key input on the community from their perspective. CPACS continued to identify champions (formal and informal and traditional and nontraditional leadership), attend city council meetings, and make introductions with city leaders to make all of this possible. Once the smoke free policies became a priority for city leaders, CPACS worked with the city to bring the ordinance to passage as law.
Congressional members, community partners, and CPACS worked together to provide technical assistance while helping with actually writing the laws into place. CPACS built a relationship with these individuals and through these strengthened connections with council members created a united front of all the organizations working to promote change.
CPACS saw an opportunity to learn and adapt from successful smoke free ordinance passage in neighboring Clarkston, GA and sought to successfully develop youth leaders and train them to approach city council and larger community coalitions and nonprofits. Through youth led community work, Doraville was able to convince city council members to make smoke free spaces a priority. This led to a vote and policy change with the passage of a smoke free ordinance in Doraville, GA in November 2020.
However, successful policy change did not come without some barriers and challenges. Local businesses were most affected by these policies and CPACS is still actively working to educate the community about the policy changes and the importance of smoke free spaces with some resistance from some business owners and business patrons. Some places still operate with smoking in their establishments despite the new ordinances in place. CPACS continues to work with youth on an ethnographic study of the effects of the ordinance to inform future culturally and linguistically tailored educational materials development for policy awareness. They also continue to collaborate with community businesses in ensuring smoke free improvements are made from the provisions of the ordinance.
After the success in Doraville, the community sought expansion of smokefree laws to Gwinnett County, GA and were able to garner support and passage for similar laws effective June 23, 2022. The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners passed a countywide smoke free ordinance to prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces. CPACS continues to work with the communities in Doraville to create awareness for the targeting practices of commercial tobacco advertising and to promote the advantages of smoke free policies for maintaining a healthy built environment. CPACS with the help, support, technical assistance, and training offered by the ASPIRE Network of APPEAL continues to provide education, advocacy, and policy support to the community.
About this Success Story
Organization(s): Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS)
Primary Contact(s): APPEAL Staff
Authors: APPEAL Staff with informant interviews from CPACS staff – Camila Gomez and Kaitlin Banfill
Source: Informant interviews from CPACS staff – Camila Gomez and Kaitlin Banfill
More details (web address for study):
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523